If you want to talk about improving road safety for European motorcyclists, the best place to be is the European Commission. So that is where FEMA went.
A FEMA team had a top meeting with Matthew Baldwin, the recently appointed Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport and European coordinator for road safety and sustainable mobility. Also present from the Commision were Fotini Ioannidou and Casto Lopez Benitez from the European Commission’s Unit Road Safety.
On the agenda were the Road Infrastructure Safety Management (RISM) Directive, the General Safety Regulation (GSR) and Pedestrian Safety Regulation (PSR), Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), the Third Driving Licence Directive (3DLD), post licence training and some smaller issues.
The atmosphere of the meeting was excellent, not in the least because FEMA fully supports the European Commission in the issues of the Road Infrastructure Safety Management Directive (RISM), the General Safety Regulation and Pedestrian Safety Regulation, although with respect to the RISM Directive there was a question about the possibility of different speed limits for motorcycles and cars. FEMA explained to the European Commission that this is not a good idea and possibly even dangerous for motorcyclists. Asked for motorcyclists’ main needs in safer road infrastructure, we mentioned safer barriers, obstacle free roadsides and enough grip on the roads as the main needs. We also promised to provide the Commission with a full list of needs.
On the issue of Intelligent Speed Assistance, we agreed that we are open for discussion about this, as long as the control of the speed is with the rider. Here the views of the European Commission and FEMA didn’t differ. This will be worked out later.
About the Third Driving Licence Directive, we explained that the current system, especially the staged access to the full A licence, is not a success and leads to higher costs for new riders. It leads to more accidents of riders without a licence at all. It also leads to people finding ways to circumnavigate the three stages, which cannot have been the intention. FEMA explained that if a staged access system needs to be in place, we need a simpler system with less tests. We all agreed that post licence training can be beneficial to road safety if done well, but the focus should in general be on the riders’ abilities to ride safe in traffic. Also, post licence trainings should not come at the expense of good initial training.
The European Commission also expressed the wish for good cooperation inside the motorcycle world, but more importantly also for good cooperation between motorcyclists’ organizations with other organisations of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Of course, FEMA already has regular contact with the European Cyclists Federation (ECF) about common views and interests; on a small scale we already do cooperate with the ECF.
Present at the meeting were:
Matthew Baldwin – Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport and European coordinator for road safety and sustainable mobility
Fotini Ioannidou – Head of Unit Road Safety
Casto Lopez Benitez – Senior Policy Officer of Unit Road Safety
Jesper Christensen – General Secretary SMC (FEMA’s largest member organization)
Dolf Willigers – General Secretary FEMA
Wim Taal – Communications Officer FEMA